Former Spain full-back Michel Salgado has revealed the exact reasons behind his acrimonious exit from Blackburn Rovers, while launching a withering attack on the club’s controversial owners.
Much has changed at Ewood Park since Salgado’s release in January 2012, with the club swapping mid-table security in the Premier League for a relegation dog fight in the Championship.
The onset of Blackburn’s on-field woes can be traced back to the day the club were taken over by Indian poultry company Venky’s in November 2010.
The promise of a bright and successful future for the club, has proved anything but; suffering relegation at the end of their first full season in charge whilst overseeing a succession of managerial changes.
Four bosses have come and gone in that period including three this season alone. The constant upheaval has affected results on the pitch too, with Blackburn currently occupying a place in the bottom three of England’s second-tier with just six games remaining.
It is a situation that Salgado admits “saddens” him and he would like nothing more than to see his former club return to the Premier League. However that, he believes, will remain nothing more than a dream with the current owners at the helm.
“The only thing I have to say about it (Blackburn’s situation) is that it is outrageous,” Salgado told reporters at his unveiling as the Director of Football for Dubai Sports City.
“I speak to a lot of fans and from my point of view it’s very sad to see this amazing, historic club in this situation; facing a relegation battle in the Championship, when just two years ago they finished tenth in the Premier League with a promising group of players.
“I hope something happens where there are huge changes and Blackburn return to the Premier League. But the problem will not be fixed in a short time because so many changes have to be made.
“Blackburn’s situation really saddens me,” the 37-year-old added. “I loved my time at Blackburn, apart from the last six months, which had nothing to do with me or football.”
The final six months Salgado refers to are when he was omitted from the squad after just 13 games of the season having started nine of those. Due to a clause in his contract, Salgado would have been eligible for an extension had he featured a further nine times that season, but in an attempt to cut costs, the Blackburn owners decided he no longer had a part to play.
It was a far cry from the promises of glory and European football Venky’s had pledged to deliver upon first receiving the keys to Ewood Park.
“To be honest, when they first arrived at Blackburn it was really exciting times,” recalls Salgado, who joined Rovers in 2009 after a decade with Real Madrid.
“All they spoke about was developing something really good for the future of the club. But everything changed in the space of two months; there were so many players in and out, the manager (Sam Allardyce) was replaced (by Steve Kean) and so many strange things began to happen at the club.”
Shedding light on his own demise at Blackburn, Salgado explained: “I remember my situation, along with three of four other guys; it was the game before Swansea in December.
“Suddenly on the Thursday before the game I got a call from the club saying they wanted to talk to me. I was playing all the games and was a key part of the club so from that day I couldn’t find an explanation as to why I was removed from the team.
“The squad was then almost totally dissembled and then you know the rest; Blackburn were relegated and everything is getting worse.”
He added: “I cannot understand why it has happened to a club like this when everything was running really well; the facilities, the fans, the history, the stadium – they have everything.”
Focus on job at hand
Venky’s came under renewed criticism on Tuesday when they summoned caretaker manager Gary Bowyer to India for talks, resulting in him missing two days of training in a critical stage of the season.
And the episode has enraged Salgado, who believes it is just the latest bad decision made by the owners which have helped put the club in the perilous position they find themselves in.
“I’m not surprised because the things that are happening are totally outside of football,” Salgado said. “The decisions are made in a different way to any other club in the world in terms of football.
“When you are playing for your life, like they are now in this relegation fight, they need to stick together, train more than ever, and prepare better than ever for the games. But instead of that, the manager is in Pune instead of being on the training ground.
“The decision makers should be heading over to England to talk to the manager so as not to disrupt the match preparations. It’s crazy and outrageous everything that has happened.”
Al Wahda coach Branko Ivankovic has insisted defender Hamdan Al Kamali was in Dubai on Friday for treatment and not transfer talks with Al Ahli.
However, the Croatian coach said he would not be surprised if the Red Knights, or other Pro League rivals, were interested in signing the UAE centre-back.
Abu Dhabi Sports reported on Friday that Ahli had contacted Al Kamali about the possibility of moving to the Rashed Stadium for the start of the next season.
Ivankovic would be loath to lose the 23-year-old but admitted he was in the dark over his movements in Dubai.
Al Kamali, who spent the second half of last season on loan at French giants Lyon where he did not feature, is currently out of action with a knee injury and will not return to first-team duty for at least another week.
“I don’t know, I know he’s in Dubai to try and solve his injury problems at a medical clinic. I don’t know if he’s having negotiations with any club, with Al Ahli,” Ivankovic said after Wahda’s 1-1 draw with Al Wasl at the Al Nahyan Stadium.
“Of course it is normal, he is an excellent player, a national team player. So clubs want him, not only Al Ahli, but Al Ain, Jazira. Because he is an excellent player and everybody wants to have excellent players in their team.”
Earlier Ahli CEO Ahmad Khalifa Hammad refused to confirm or deny the club’s reported interest in Al Kamali, telling Koora.com to “ask Abu Dhabi TV”.
RESULT: Barcelona 5 (Fabregas 20′, 37′ & 46′, Alexis 22′ & 39′) Real Mallorca 0
Who needs Lionel Messi?
Barca will have been particularly pleased with the identity of the scorers because Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez have come under fire in recent weeks.
Although others played their part – notably the dazzling captain Andres Iniesta – this was very much the Cesc and Alexis show as they combined for each of the opening four goals.
The first came when Fabregas received a pass from Iniesta, played a neat one-two with Sanchez to break clear of the Mallorca defence and rolled home a low shot.
Two minutes later the game was effectively over as Fabregas shot from the edge of the box, Mallorca keeper Dudu Aouate parried and the loose ball dropped to Sanchez for a narrow-angled finish.
Chances continued to flow as Barca repeatedly ripped open the porous Mallorca defence, and the dynamic duo did it again when a slick passing move involving Iniesta and Thiago Alcantara resulted in Fabregas finding Sanchez on the right and continuing his run to met the Chilean’s placed cross with a sweeping low finish.
There was still time for another goal before the break as Fabregas turned provider, lofting a perfectly weighted chip into the path of Sanchez who prodded home past the advancing Aouate.
And Fabregas completed his first professional hat-trick in the very first minute of the second period, receiving Iniesta’s brilliant defence-splitting pass and turning to slot home.
The game petered off towards the end as Barca saved their energy for Wednesday’s Champions League meeting with Paris Saint-Germain, but a perfect evening for the hosts was rounded off when Eric Abidal was introduced from the bench for his first appearance since receiving a liver transplant last year.
Abidal was introduced for the final 20 minutes and had a gentle reintroduction in the centre of defence, receiving applause from the appreciative home crowd every time he touched the ball.
There was also an opportunity for Tito Vilanova – back on the Nou Camp sidelines for the first time since January after returning from a medical trip to New York – to give first league outings of the season for youngsters Gerard Deulofeu and Jonathan Dos Santos, who went up against his brother, Mallorca striker Geovani.
It was a depressing evening for the desperately poor visitors, who sank to the bottom of the table following Deportivo La Coruna’s victory over Real Zaragoza and now face a crunch game next weekend at home to second-bottom Celta Vigo.